The Latest in Biometric Banking

November 1, 2017

With the average consumer holding multiple passwords across a host of sites, demand >has increased for one-stop solutions acting as universal identity verification. Biometric identification techniques, already introduced on many passports across the world, are increasing in importance in banking and finance  – promising more secure accounts and payments. The use of Touch ID on Apple iPhones has greatly increased the awareness of, and trust in, fingerprint authentication. However, concerns still remain about the possibilities of hacking, as well as the impossibility of changing biometric information (as one would a password) if it is hacked. Beyond fingerprints, some banks now allow customers to log into their account or make payments with facial or iris recognition software, claiming enhanced security over fingerprint authentication. Take a look at six of the latest in biometric banking:


1. Tokyo

Japan began trialling fingerprint-based payment technology in the summer of 2016 in anticipation of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. In a bid to fight crime relating to credit card fraud and theft, tourists register their fingerprint and credit card details at Tokyo Airport, after which their fingerprint act as payment authorisation.

2. Santander

The retail bank introduced voice activated payments in the UK in 2017, for users with an Apple iPhone. Customers can instruct the bank to pay someone, or ask about their recent transactions by speaking into their device.

3. Barclays

Biometric Reader uses finger vein scanning technology to verify an individual’s identity and allow access to online bank accounts and authorisation of payments. Barclays claims the reader combines high security with high usability, as each vein scan is held on a Smart SIM retained by the user, meaning there is no public record of it thus limiting hacking opportunities.

4. Alibaba Smile To Pay… for chicken

The Chinese tech giant launched a new “smile to pay” service in Hangzhou’s KFC in September 2017. A 3D camera scans the customer’s face to verify their identity and the payment process doesn’t require a smartphone, assuming that the customer has already signed up for the Alipay app and enabled facial recognition.

5. Uniqul

Registered customers can pay without needing a card or phone at Uniqul terminals, which aim to make shopping wallet-free. Customers select which card to use on in-store screens, which then use facial recognition to authenticate the payment.

6. TSB and Samsung

Another bank incorporating biometric security is TSB, who now allows customers with a Samsung S8 smartphone to log into its app. Reportedly, the iris scanning that is used with Samsung Pass technology, is over six times more secure than fingerprint sensors.


Biometric identification streamlines the customer experience, eliminating the need to remember passwords online, or even a wallet when shopping in real life. Although authentication is at the forefront of biometric use in financial services, the data gathered in transactions can also be used to enhance the wider customer experience through personalisation. However companies will have to ensure consent, and enhance the feeling of consumer control, due to the confidential nature of information being accessed.


Want to know more about the latest in insurtech? Take a look at our popular piece here.


Written by Grace Fell

As a Senior Trend Analyst I research and analyse new consumer behaviors, and their impact on businesses, with a specific focus on the financial services, home and utilities sectors. I am also responsible for our economic analysis, as following my degree in Economics this is an area I am particularly interested in.

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